Labour (economics)

In classical economics and all micro-economics labour is one of three factors of production, the others being land and capital. It is a measure of the work done by human beings. There are macro-economic system theories which have created a concept called human capital, although counterposing macro-economic system theories that think human capital is a contradiction that mixes apples with oranges.

The price of labour is called a wage, and the price of labour per period of time is referred to as the wage rate.

Economists measure labour in terms of hours worked, total wages, or efficiency.

In general, the word job refers to any discrete activity of economic production. In this sense, a group may divide up a set of tasks among its members, each task being "the job" of the individual it is assigned to.

However, in capitalist societies, the word "job" has become synonymous with "employment". This refers to the long term relationship between a labourer and those who have legal control of the other factors of production. In this sense, labourers talk of "getting a job", or "having a job".

This conceptual metaphor of a "job" as a possession has led to its use in slogans such as "money for jobs, not bombs". Similar conceptions are that of "land" as a possession (real estate) or intellectual rights as a possession (intellectual property). None of the three are recognized in traditional labour economics which emphasizes work, not entitlements or even necessarily royalties, as the basis of rights to receive economic benefits.

Kinds of labour: brain worker, free-work, manual labour, slavery, telework, volunteer

See also: profession, commuter

copyright 2004